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Blind Obedience – Part 2/4

25 Jul

Were the educators in Atlanta, Georgia – that changed the answers on standardized tests – wrong?

According to our laws, yes, and many may be punished by losing their jobs. Some may even go to jail. That does not mean that the law is just.

However, I understand why they did it.

This is an example of how one morally wrong act leads to another. The NCLB Act signed into law (January 2002) by President G. W. Bush was flawed, and changing the answers on standardized tests was also wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right.

…underlying NCLB is the assumption that schools by themselves can achieve dramatic, totally unprecedented levels of educational achievement for all racial ethnic groups as well as for children with disabilities, low-income children, and children who lack English fluency-all in a short time and without changing any of the other inequalities in their lives.” Source:Christopher Knaus, Ph.D.

Taking into account the Knaus quote, the NCLB Act made victims of teachers by holding them responsible for inequalities, such as poor parenting, that are impossible to change or control.

Teachers are responsible to teach, students to learn and parents to support. The facts indicate that teachers are doing their job and so are many students. The credit for any failure to achieve the goals of the NCLB Act belongs to poor parenting among other inequalities.

Continued on July 26, 2010 in Blind Obedience – Part 3 or return to Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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6 responses to “Blind Obedience – Part 2/4

  1. jonolan

    July 25, 2011 at 11:20

    One – While the gang-banger reference was off-base, you’re argument is in defense of these “teachers” is the same one used by those who kill abortionists, that of desperation and lack of options.

    Two – these teachers weren’t concerned about the students. They were concerned about their own wallets. Don’t try to pass it off as anything other than that.

     
    • Lloyd Lofthouse

      July 25, 2011 at 15:56

      My motive for writing this four part series was to point out that the NCLB Act is wrong and that critics of the public schools and teachers are wrong. I do not intend to defend the educators for changing the answers. However, I will attempt to explain why they were that desperate.

      Of course, the motive was money, but it was not greed as much as it was survival that drove these educators to this level of desperation. And for sure, everyone that works in that school district did not take part or even know what was going on once the tests were turned in.

      How many people are out of work in the United States today? I’m sure these teachers and administrators feared that they might soon be in the soup lines and homeless. Fear drove them to do this. Not greed.

      If schools do not meet the mandate of the NCLB Act, schools can be taken over and all of the administrators and teachers fired. The kids may then be moved to another school that has higher scores or new administrators and teachers are hired. If the new staff also fails, those teachers and administrators also may get fired and be replaced.

      However, their is no punishment for the children and parents.

      If your job was at risk due to an unjust law such as the NCLB Act, what might you do so you could keep paying the bills and not lose your house or apartment and end up homeless and living off the streets?

      These teachers and administrators didn’t know what else to do to save their jobs. After all, few in this country care to hear what teachers have to say. If we complain, the common response is that you are a disgruntled employee so quit. In fact, half of new teachers do quit within the first few years and never return to education. It is that bad.

      Ninety percent of a person’s character is developed during the first six years of life before starting school. It is possible to change but it isn’t easy even when someone wants to change. If it were easy to lose weight, sixty percent of Americans would not be obese.

      If parents do not instill a love of reading or a respect for teachers and education during the first six years of life, it is an uphill battle for the education system to overcome. The NCLB Act does not consider this. All the NCIBA Act does is punish teachers for children that do not enjoy reading, often do not do the class work, any homework or study even when the teacher is doing a good job teaching and according to even the flawed and biased documentary “Waiting for Superman”, only 7% of the teachers are not doing an adequate job. If what “Waiting for Superman” claims is true, that means 93% of the teachers are doing their job and children will learn if they cooperate.

       
      • jonolan

        July 26, 2011 at 03:08

        Yes, those teachers and school administrators who fail under NCLB will likely lose their jobs – as they should since they failed.

        Does that make your assertions wrong? No. You’re quite right but it’s largely immaterial. Teachers, like the rest of us, have to work with the situation that they find themselves in, no some utopian phantasmagoria where children are actually raised right.

        Think of it this way – You’re right; the problem is how the children are raised. Why should the state continue to waste money upon them to no benefit to society beyond keeping them warehoused to some extent for some hours of the day?

         
      • Lloyd Lofthouse

        July 26, 2011 at 07:22

        “Why should the state continue to waste money upon them (students that do not cooperate in school and learn) to no benefit to society beyond keeping them warehoused to some extent for some hours of the day?”

        “I AGREE”, which is why we should change the laws of our education system to match most countries in the world, which identify the students that do not cooperate/learn, train them in some low skilled, low wage field and allow them to work at an earlier age washing dishes, picking crops, working in sweat shops, or something similar.

        In other words, children and teens must earn the right to stay in school by proving they are learning.

        Instead of a mandated right to go to school no matter what (even against a teens will) until the age of 18, children should be tested at say 6th grade then 9th grade and those that are too far behind in the basics such as reading, writing and math are shifted to vocational schools to learn how to be mechanics, electricians, janitors, plumbers, street sweepers, pool cleaners, hair cutters, dish washers, waiters, gardeners, people that paint houses, etc.

        In fact, it is a fantasy to expect the schools to educate 100% of children from every lifestyle and every socio economic level so they are ready to go to college by the time they turn 18.

        However, I still contend that it is an injustice to punish teachers for kids that refuse to cooperate and learn and for poor parenting. The NCLB Act is an injustice to all educators and a bad law is still a bad law.

        The US has had bad laws before such as Prohibition and eventually that was repealed.

         
      • jonolan

        July 26, 2011 at 08:32

        And there’s your problem, and it’s a common one. You’re railing against something that is not a prime cause.

        NCLB isn’t bad law. per se It’s the best available law predicated on a very bad underlying societal assumption or, as in the case of education, several very bad underlying assumptions.

        It we trashed NCLB without changing the underlying problem, little would be improved even for the teachers because the money is just not there to keep expanding our school system when it’s a failure because it’s cited goals are unattainable and dependent on too many factors not under control of the school system.

         
      • Lloyd Lofthouse

        July 26, 2011 at 16:21

        jonolan,

        I agree that we cannot do away with the NCLB Act and leave the educational system as it is. The educational system has to change such as the suggestion I wrote of in my last comment to test kids out of the system that are not hitting their benchmarks in reading, math and writing at 6th and 9th grade.

        The kids that test out at 6th grade would be 11 or 12 and would be sent to vocational schools to gain skills for low wage jobs. Then at 13 or 14, those kids go to work in those low wage jobs even if it meant taking the jobs that illegal immigrants work at today.

        The ones that test out in 9th grade would be 14 or 15. They would enter the work force at 15 or 16 at the lowest wage level.

        The children that test out of school would still be minors living at home but would be going to work at a McDonalds, as janitors, work on farms picking crops, etc.

        Then we would rewrite the NCLB Act with language that rewards parents of children that demonstrate steady improvement toward the goal of scoring above the 80th percentile according to the current mandate of the NCLB Act. All the government has to do is eliminate the language that punishes educators and replace it with language that rewards parents of successful children that show improvement on the standardized tests annually.

        The reward would be a BIG tax break for parents (maybe as much as a 50% reduction in income taxes or even property taxes) with children that show growth toward the required benchmark (the more a child improves, the higher the tax break until it peaks at a 50% reduction in taxes). Once a child reaches the 80th percentile in all of the target subjects, the tax break stays at 50% and is maintained until the child graduates from high school.

        Then parents might start putting pressure on their children to pay attention, do class work, read regularly, do homework and study — in other words listen to the teachers and follow instructions.
        Parents would also stop putting pressure on teachers to make children feel good to boost “false” self-esteem. Instead, the pressure would be for teachers to improve and demand more from students to improve.

        This might also encourage good parents to have more children so they keep earning those tax breaks over a longer period of time. As for the lousy parents, where is the benefit of having more children if your taxes stay the same?

        In fact, there could be a carrot and stick approach to this method. Lousy parents with children that show no improvement would be moved into a higher tax bracket and pay more–possible as high twice as much tax.

         

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